Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the three new criminal laws that came into effect on Monday, would bring far-reaching changes to India’s criminal justice system and help boost the speed of the judicial process.

The new laws – Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA) – replaced the British-era IPC, Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act, respectively.

“First of all, I would like to congratulate the people of the country that about 77 years after independence, our criminal justice system is becoming completely ‘Swadeshi’. This will function on Indian ethos,” Shah said addressing media on Monday.

“After 75 years, these laws were contemplated upon and when these laws are in effect from today, colonial laws have been scrapped and laws made in the Indian Parliament are being brought into practice,” the Home Minister said adding that instead of ‘Dand’ (punishment), it is now ‘Nyay’ (justice).

“Instead of delay, there will be speedy trial and speedy justice. Earlier, only the rights of the Police were protected but now, victims’ and complainants’ rights will be protected too,” Shah said.

These laws were passed in the Parliament in December 2023. While the new laws were presented as part of an exercise in decolonising existing criminal laws, legal experts and activists opposed its implementation, saying broader consultations should have taken place before the government enforced them.

Shah said that the government decided the priority of sections and chapters in line with the spirit of our Constitution. The first priority, he said, was given to (the chapters on) crimes against women and children.

“I believe that this was needed to be done much earlier. An entire chapter with 35 sections and 13 provisions has been added. Now, gangrape will attract 20-year imprisonment or life imprisonment, rape of a minor will attract death penalty, a separate crime has been defined for sexual exploitation by hiding one’s identity or making false promises,” Shah said adding that a provision has been made to record statement of the victim at her home in the presence of women officers and her own family.

“Besides this, the facility of online FIR has been provided too; we believe that a lot of women can be saved from embarrassment this way,” he said.

The Opposition launched an attack on the government accusing it of forcibly passing the these laws by suspending MPs and claiming that major parts of the laws are a “cut, copy and paste job.”

The Union Home Minister called the opposition charge baseless and said that, instead, the opposition did not take part during the debate on these laws in the Parliament. Shah also requested the opposition parties to rise above politics and refrain from any criticism of these laws. He also said he would welcome any views from opposition on the new criminal laws.